Why R&B Singer Niia’s Been Told She’s The Female Drake
Niia’s been compared to Drake in the past, and it makes sense. It’s not necessarily that the singer sounds exactly like him, but her music — and most recently, that’s “Bored to Death,” the single she released last week — evokes similar feelings as any artist who’s been influenced by the greatest R&B singers. She cites Sade as a huge influence, and both her and the Views rapper take from their history in the best possible way, and make it completely their own.
Now, “Bored to Death” has us anticipating the release of her upcoming debut album, so check her new song out on iTunes, and read her thoughts on other artists of the moment, nudity, and what it took for her to get where she is today.
On a scale from prude to nude beach, where do you stand?
It’s funny. I used to be way more prude, and now I think because I’m so nervous to be poorly styled, I’d rather just be naked. Which could go bad too, but then you’re not wearing all this weird shit, that you’re like, this isn’t really me [laughing].
You studied music at a conservatory, right?
I went to a jazz program for four months, and then I was like hey, I just want to be in New York and doing all that stuff!
And so what are your thoughts on going to school for what you love?
The joke is that if you make it all the way through music school, you’re probably not going to have a career. So when the opportunities start to come along the way, and they did, you’ve just got to take them, you know? I feel like that’s how creative work tends to be. When I started getting into the pop mainstream scene, I realized that nobody gives a shit about whether you went to a conservatory, there’s like a whole different set of skills you’ve got to learn, but both of those are important.
Do you have advice for aspiring musicians? Would you tell them to go to school?
It really depends what you want. I mean, I know how to read music, I know how to write music, I know how to score, I can play music. And it’s definitely beneficial, and you also learn the discipline and craftsmanship of it, and I’m a big believer in craft, and nowadays people don’t work that hard, and just expect to be famous. My first album which is coming out soon, is a little bit more elevated musically, and I’m trying to find a medium. But I never would be able to do that if I didn’t have my education, so that’s important.
I read that you experience stage fright. Is that still an issue?
I still have it pretty bad, but at this point, I’m just so happy to be making music for a job. And for this first album, I wanted it to be this amazing social commentary, and it’s just pretty much just all about being a nutty girlfriend, like me just being this total, bipolor, crazy girlfriend. So in order for this to be an album I can perform for my fans, and for it to make sense, I have to be transparent with my audience, and I can’t half-ass it. That’s how I’m looking at it. I have to perform in order to communicate to my fans the right way. But yeah, [laughing] it’s terrifying, and the whole week before, I’m just freaking out, and my band hates me. And then 20 seconds in, I relax a little.
Who are your biggest musical influences? And who are you into right now?
I love jazz, you know. Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Sade, Fiona Apple, Sting… all that kind of stuff. I’ve been really into Drake, and I’ve had a few people listen to my music and be like, this is Sade, Drake, and Dido! I like Drake, I respect what he does. I think The Weeknd’s great, it’s very free, and different from what a lot of people are doing. I love Lana Del Rey, she’s doing good things for sad girls everywhere.